The celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3 every year was announced in 1992 by the resolution No. 47/3 of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It aims to protect the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all areas of society’s development, and to raise awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life.
Building on the UN’s many years of work in the field of disability, the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has further advanced the work of ensuring the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
On the occasion of International Day of Disabled Persons, our interviewee is Nadir Jafarov, the founder and director of “CHIRAQ” Humanitarian Development Public Union.
Nadir teacher, what does disability mean in the most general sense?
Nadir Jafarov: The UN defines it as follows: “Disability is a condition or function that is significantly impaired compared to the normal standard of individuals of their group. The term is often used to refer to individual functioning, including physical disabilities, sensory impairments, cognitive impairments, intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and various types of chronic illness.”
What other problems do people with disabilities face and what should be the help of the society?
N.C.: People with disabilities have poorer health, lower educational outcomes, less economic opportunity, and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. Obstacles to their satisfaction of their rights and needs can be in different forms. Therefore, the state and society should study them and take appropriate measures to ensure the legal needs of those people.
Mr. Nadir, “CHIRAQ” Humanitarian Development Public Union has been engaged for a long time in meeting the needs of a separate category of people with disabilities, people injured and disabled as a result of mine and ammunition explosion.
N.C.: It is. The disability of these people, in general, is the main reason for the problem of landmines and unexploded ammunition in our country, wars for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, for Karabakh. During the Soviet era, ammunition depots, defense zones of military bases, or areas where large-scale military exercises were held were also a source of serious danger.
“CHIRAQ” HIIB has started the work of meeting the needs of disabled people injured as a result of mines and ammunition explosions in the territories of the First Karabakh war, with the financial support of ANAMA, Agency for Demining the Territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in the project of distribution of wheelchairs.
Were all of those people victims of an explosion during the war?
N.C.: As in many parts of the world, areas where military operations have taken place remain a source of danger in Azerbaijan for many years. For those engaged in economic activities in those areas, for those who come there for walking and recreation. Unfortunately, the boundaries and degree of danger of mine and unexploded ordnance dangerous areas are only approximately known for many reasons, and are revealed after accidents involving civilians who are not aware of this or who engage in risky behavior by ignoring warnings.
Therefore, mine warning instructions should be conducted among the civilian population.
N.C.: Yes, including special attention should be paid to marking dangerous areas with special warning signs. At this time, “Don’t touch!”, “Stop! Mina!” warning words should be the primary instruction for the civilian population.
In addition to demining, how were the opportunities to help the population affected by explosive dangerous objects meet their needs?
N.C.: In November 2009, in the presence of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the President of the Republic of Slovenia Danilo Türk, the directors of ANAMA and the International Trust Fund of Slovenia signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on humanitarian demining measures.
After that, in 2010-2012, together with other partners, ANAMA, International Trust Fund (BEF – financial support), International Migration for improving the living conditions and protecting the health of refugees and IDPs injured and disabled as a result of mine and military ammunition explosion. Together with the organization (IMG), a microcredit project was implemented in different regions of the republic (Tartar, Goranboy, Barda, Aghjabedi, Beylagan, Fuzuli, Bilasuvar, etc.).
Microloans for treatment are probably not a complete solution to the financial problems of persons disabled as a result of mine and ammunition explosion. Also the scholarship they receive. Are there projects related to providing them with a permanent source of income and jobs?
N.C.: Research conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1996 found that formal employment is very difficult for disabled landmine/PHS victims, especially in rural/district areas. 74-88% of them are unemployed. Therefore, the most suitable option is to create conditions for them to get their income.
In 2013-2014, with the financial support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), ANAMA, IOM and “CHIRAQ” HIB “Small business training and microcredit revolving fund for mine victims in Azerbaijan” in Beylagan, Agjabedi, Imishli, Saatli and Bilasuvar districts of the republic. within the framework of the project, relevant trainings were conducted for people disabled as a result of a mine explosion and microloans were given to them.
The aim was to support mine victims and their family members to engage in small business activities in order to improve their living standards.
However, over the years, the need for treatment of people with disabilities, including people disabled as a result of landmines and ammunition explosions, does not disappear, perhaps it becomes more acute, right?
N.C.: It is. It should also be noted that, for example, it may be necessary to change the prosthesis 6 times from childhood to adulthood. The shock experienced by those people and the situation they fell into have a psychological effect on them for life. Therefore, along with orthopedic devices (prostheses), wheelchairs, psychological rehabilitation measures take a special place.
In this regard, in 2015-2016, with the financial support of ANAMA, the project of organizing medical treatment of persons disabled as a result of a mine explosion in a sanatorium was implemented.
In recent days, in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, we have faced not only the danger of mines and unexploded military ammunition of the First Karabakh War of 1992-94, the 44-day Second Karabakh War, but also the danger of newly buried mines by Armenians.
N.C.: It is. In this regard, Azerbaijan raised its voice of protest and spoke its decisive word from various high chairs. The letter of Yashar Aliyev, the head of the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN, addressed to the Secretary General of the organization and Sabina Aliyeva, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Azerbaijan, published in the press, can be cited as an example of this. Azerbaijan’s civil society, its leading group, NGOs, gathered at the conference and gave a political assessment of the war crimes committed by Armenians in a special statement.
It is obvious that the state structures and general public of Azerbaijan, which triumphed in the Patriotic War, are more organized, and it can be believed that the measures to combat the threat of mines in order to ensure the safety of the peaceful construction works in the territories freed from occupation, and then the Great Return of the local population to their native land, are continuous in a fully comprehensive manner. will be carried out and the tasks of meeting the most diverse needs of mine victims will be successfully solved.
Thank you very much, teacher Nadir, for the extensive and interesting interview! We wish you and the “CHIRAQ” Humanitarian Development Public Union new successes in the implementation of your public initiatives.
The letter addressed by the head of the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN to the Secretary General of the organization was distributed as a document of the General Assembly and the Security Council.
“By continuing to place mines and by refusing to share accurate and comprehensive information about all mined areas in the historically occupied lands of Azerbaijan, Armenia is deliberately targeting human lives and hindering post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and humanitarian efforts, as well as the safe return of displaced persons to their homes.” trying to be. As a result, in the last two years after the conflict, more than 260 Azerbaijani civilians and military personnel were killed or injured as a result of mine explosions,” the diplomat noted.
The letter stated that these actions of Armenia are a clear violation of international law and demanded that those who committed them be brought to justice: “Armenia should end mine terrorism and desist from such acts, in accordance with the norms of international law, it should compensate the damage caused as a result of its illegal acts, and compensate the injured citizens should provide full compensation and provide appropriate guarantees to prevent such actions from being repeated.”
Ombudsperson Sabina Aliyeva notes in her extensive article to the press: “Armenia’s military and political leadership, inspired by impunity, poses a serious threat to ensuring just peace and security in the region. The latest events in the Caucasus confirm this after Azerbaijan regained control over the Karabakh region and a large part of its sovereign territory illegally occupied by neighboring Armenia.
Clearing the reclaimed land has been a priority: it has opened the way for hundreds of thousands of displaced people to return to their homes. As their resettlement has become a matter of national pride, the government has directed its national resources to this cause.
Since liberating the region two years ago, Azerbaijan has cleared 514 square kilometers of territory, which is 1.5 times more than the world’s cleared areas in 2020. This is progress. But 11,270 square kilometers remain.
As a result of Armenia’s policy of aggression, the number of landmine victims in Azerbaijan in the last 30 years totaled 3345 people. From the end of the Patriotic War of 2020 to the end of October this year, 266 of our citizens were harmed by mine explosions, 45 of them, including 3 journalists, were killed. Out of 45 people killed, 35 are civilians. In the last 30 years, 38 women and 357 children were injured by landmines.
The increase in the number of mine victims once again proves that this activity of Armenia is a war crime, a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and the Yerevan authorities should be pressured to prevent it.
On November 3, 2022, at the State Support Agency for Non-Governmental Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan, NGOs held a conference on demining from occupied territories under the theme “Joining our efforts for a mine-free Azerbaijan”, according to the statement:
“We, the non-governmental organizations operating in Azerbaijan, demand that the war crimes committed by Armenia be investigated by international institutions, that the mining of territories and non-presentation of maps be given a legal and political assessment, and that the international community and international organizations be punished for the crimes committed by Armenia against humanity.”